Quick start with the ia command line tool#

One of the most common ways that we’ve seen developers use for accessing and managing the content at the Internet Archive is by using the command-line interface (CLI) tool. The following steps help you get started quickly with this tool.

(For details on the CLI tool, see Archive.org command line tool.)

It’s assumed that:

  • You’re using a Unix-like environment.

  • You’re comfortable with the command line interface and the cURL command.

  • You’re familiar with the nomenclature used at the Internet Archive. If not, see Definitions.


If you don’t have an Internet Archive account yet, go to https://archive.org/account/login and sign up. You’ll need these credentials for the quick start steps.

To quickly get started with the ia CLI tool:

  1. Download the Python binary by running the following command: curl -LOs https://archive.org/download/ia-pex/ia

  2. Make the binary an executable file by running the following command: chmod +x ia.

  3. Create a configuration file with your archive.org login credentials by running the following command: ia configure. When prompted, enter the credentials that you used for creating an Internet Archive account. The information is saved to $HOME/.config/ia.ini. If you don’t have a .config directory in $HOME, the info is saved to $HOME/.ia.

  4. Try out some operations:

    • Get the metadata of an item by running the following command: ia metadata <unique_item_identifier>. For example, to read the metadata of the song called We are the world, run: ia metadata U_S_A_For_Africa_We_Are_The_World. (Here’s a more detailed tutorial on finding the unique item identifier.)

    • Upload an item to the Internet Archive by running a command with the following syntax: ia upload <identifier> file1 file2 --metadata="mediatype:texts" --metadata="param:arg", where <identifier> is a unique string. (Here’s a more detailed tutorial on creating an item.)